Walking as a Workout: The Power of This Fitness Secret
Walking is one of the easiest and least expensive exercises we can add to your fitness routine. At first, walking is just something we do to get where we're going. As we grow, walking becomes a vital exercise component. When we're full-grown adults, does it make sense that walking is no longer good enough to help keep us fit? Of course not! Read on to learn about walking as an exercise and the benefits we can gain from it.
Is Walking for Exercise Good Enough?
According to the CDC, walking is described this way:
"...a great way to get the physical activity needed to obtain health benefits." - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
The CDC extols the benefits of walking, encouraging it as a part of your daily exercise routine. Just one session of moderately vigorous activity, such as walking, can improve a person's memory and sleep patterns, reduce anxiety, and increase the ability to think and learn, according to the CDC. A more solid recommendation would be hard to find.
Let's dive deeper into the benefits of walking as a workout.
The Physical Benefits of Walking
Some prefer simplicity in all aspects of our life. That includes our exercise routines. Some are reluctant to get into a regular exercise habit because it can get complicated — going to the gym, learning all the different exercise machines, counting repetitions over and over, breathing this way, drinking this stuff, and even counting steps.
Getting the physical activity needed doesn't have to be complicated. A simple daily, brisk walk can be the first steps on the way to a healthier life. Still skeptical? Look at a few things brisk walking can do as part of a serious workout routine:
- Strengthen muscles and bones
- Lose body fat and maintain a healthy weight
- Prevent or manage myriad conditions, including stroke, high blood pressure, heart disease, cancer, and type 2 diabetes
- Improve muscle endurance
- Improve cardiovascular fitness
- Increase energy levels
- Strengthen the immune system
- Improve your memory, mood, cognition, and sleep
- Improve your balance and coordination
- Reduce stress and tension
As with most endeavors, the more effort put into walking, the greater the benefits you'll get from it.
The Mental Benefits of Walking
While walking is giving your physical health a boost, it's also having a positive effect on your mental health, especially if you've had difficulty with depression. Enjoying a brisk walk may also help with loneliness, anxiety, and stress. The setting where you're walking, such as parks or the beach, may amplify some benefits. You can even take your dog with you as an accessory and a companion.
Walking or any physical activity can help bolster your mental health.
- Physical activity affects our moods, leaving people feeling more awake, more content, and calmer after physical activity.
- Regular physical activity eases stress.
- Being active improves our self-esteem.
- Exercise is often described as a "wonder drug" for preventing and managing depression and anxiety.
Walking can be done anywhere, at any time.
Ways to Add More Walking to Your Routine
So far, it looks like walking is an excellent workout and that's a good thing, but are there ways to make it even better? If you're looking to up your walking game, try these tips for adding more to your walking routine.
- Set a goal of 30 minutes a day of walking or get a step counter and set a goal for a specific number of steps every day.
- Make your walk challenging by bumping the pace up a notch to a brisk walk.
- Choose a new outdoor route that includes some hills for a more intense workout for your quads, hamstrings, and glutes.
- Grab your hand or ankle weights on your way out to start your walk to build muscle and improve tone.
- Stick with the same distance consistently for two or three weeks, then try gradually adding to the distance you go.
If variety is more your thing, you can add walking to your normal workout routine.
Walk Between Reps
If you enjoy a challenge in your exercise routine, try mixing walking into your usual workout.
- Walk for ten minutes, then drop and give yourself ten push-ups.
- Return to walking, enjoying your surroundings for another ten minutes, then break into twenty-five jumping jacks.
- Back to walking, taking deep breaths, and letting your mind wander for another ten minutes before you stop and get in fifteen squats.
It doesn't matter what exercise reps you're doing; break them up with ten minutes of walking. Or, if walking is your normal routine, break it up with a set of exercise reps. Either way, you'll reap the benefits.
Walk as a Warmup
Regardless of the activities you've planned, the first step should be your warmup. You need to prime your muscles before you exercise them. Walking is a great way to warm up your muscles and joints before moving to the next set in your workout routine.
An ideal warmup session includes three to five minutes of relaxed, easy walking to start priming the muscles you'll be using. Take another five minutes after that to increase the pace of your walking while throwing in some dynamic moves to get your muscles pumping. Add in some lunges or a few jumping jacks to up your game a bit. When you're feeling your juices starting to flow, transition into your normal exercise routine and enjoy!
Add More Walking to Your Weekend Activities
Start your weekend by putting away your work phone and closing your laptop. Approach the weekend as though it were a scavenger hunt, one in which the goal is to add more walking to your weekend activities.
- Make walking the focus of the activity. Plan a hike with friends or take the family on a nature walk in the local park.
- Got a pair of binoculars? Walk the neighborhood and birdwatch. Stroll around the park's lake and watch for your little feathered friends.
- While your child is at dance class or soccer practice, walk around the gym or the field.
- Heading to the mall? Park at the opposite end of the mall from the store you plan to shop.
Walking Is Great!
For more tips on making walking part of your health routine, let Tiger Fitness show you how to get the most from every step.